This page is a continuous work in progress where I’d like to promote books I’ve personally found helpful or interesting. Happy reading!
by Margo Maine, Ph.D.
No matter how many times I read this book, I always get something new out of it. Expertly researched and written in a direct and clear style, Dr. Maine cuts to the heart of the matter and doesn’t let up: there is a clear and calculated effort to make people feel badly about their appearance, as evidenced by the billions of dollars spent on cosmetic products, weight loss schemes, and plastic surgery each year. A must read for everyone!
The Body Project: An Intimate History of American Girls
by Joan Jacobs Brumberg
With The Body Project: An Intimate History of American Girls, author and historian Joan Brumberg has pieced together a unique and invaluable historical account of how women and their bodies have been regarded in our country over the last 150 years using a combination of personal journals, medical textbooks, and other historical records.
As a male, I found the book to be rather enlightening because of the very personal nature of the story-telling through journals. To a degree, the impacts to women and the way girls are brought up to think about their bodies through the media, consumerism, and patriarchal attitudes about sex seem self-evident. However, combining so many voices, rounded out with such a thorough historical record, constructs a story that everyone should read, regardless of gender and perhaps especially for those of us who aren’t women.
You can read my full review here.
By Joan Jacobs Brumberg
Brumberg’s first book, Starving Girls, looks into the history of anorexia tracing as far back as the 1500s. An incredibly interesting read, she follows the origins of diagnosis which originally attributed eating disorders to hysteria, up through early treatments in insane asylums and eventually being identified as their own unique disorder in 1873. Although she wrote this book before The Body Project, I think I enjoyed reading it more having read the other book first.
Although it was updated in 2000, it mostly follows the modern eating disorder conversation up through the 1980’s and early 1990’s, so some of the modern-day discussion may feel slightly outdated. But the historical information and her meticulous research hold up and are a fantastic resource for anyone looking to place eating disorders in a historical context. Read it!
Life Without Ed
by Jenni Schaefer and Thom Rutledge
Jenni Schaefer has written an entire book and based her recovery on one of my favorite analogies for an eating disorder: an abusive significant other. Personifying the disease in an effort to draw a clear separation from the disordered, negative thoughts of the eating disorder and the wants and needs of the person suffering, Jenni writes in short chapters to explore all the various aspects of her relationship with “Ed” (eating disorder abbreviated) and how “he” had taken over her life. A good read for those in recovery and for family/friends trying to gain perspective on this complicated and sinister disease.
Restoring Our Bodies, Reclaiming Our Lives
by Aimee Lui
(Purchase Here) Note: All proceeds from sales benefit the Academy for Eating Disorders!
Excellent compilation of letters from people who have suffered from eating disorders sharing their various perspectives and wisdom. Mixed in are short sections from professionals addressing the further implications and ideas proposed by the contributors themselves. You can read my full review here.
Speak Peace in a World of Conflict
by Marshall Rosenberg
Often in the West when we think of non-violence, we think of physical conflict. Rosenberg explains in accessible language and clear examples how every conversation and interaction we have with ourselves and others is an opportunity to have peace in the present moment. I consider eating disorders to be inherently violent, and negative self-talk is a major component of what fuels and reinforces disordered eating behavior. The application of non-violence to my life played a major role in my recovery, and this book is an excellent place to get started.
by Noah Levine
From suicidal teenager to spiritual teacher, Levine crafts his memoir with a writing style that makes you feel like you’re having a conversation with him rather than reading his words. A broken home and abusive step-father fuel his hatred for the world as he descends into a life of drug addiction, pain, and violence, looking for answers and relief in all the wrong places. Circumstance leads him to meditation and Buddhist philosophy, and begins the long and difficult process of sorting out all the pain and hurt in his life. I see a lot of similarities between addictions and eating disorders and the behaviors that fuel them – it’s no wonder that Twelve-Step groups like Alcoholics Anonymous have successfully translated into programs to help eating disorders (Overeaters Anonymous and Eating Disorders Anonymous come to mind). My own recovery from anorexia had a deeply spiritual component, and Levine’s story is a testament to the importance of seeking healing in all aspects of our lives – body and mind.
Hardcore Zen: Punk Rock, Monster Movies, and the Truth About Reality
by Brad Warner
What’s the deal with Buddhism? Some of the language and concepts are so far removed from our culture that it can be hard to get a basic understanding of it. Along with Noah Levine’s Dharma Punx, Warner writes in a conversational tone that makes Buddhist philosophy accessible and easily applicable to everyday life through humorous anecdotes and his own years of practice. While Levine’s book shows a transformation from a difficult, often miserable life, Warner by comparison has a much more relaxed story. Together, both books do a great job of showing how Buddhism can be applied to anyone’s life, regardless of hardship. His other books are worth reading, too, but Hardcore Zen is his first and best.
Below are some books I’ve cited in papers, presentations, etc. and/or found enlightening:
Straight: The Surprisingly Short History of Heterosexuality by Hanne Blank
The Will to Change by bell hooks
I Don’t Want to Talk About It by Terrance Real
Pride & Exile by Eli Clare
Fasting Girls and The Body Project by Joan Brumberg
Body Wars by Margo Maine
Gender Theory, Queer Theory by Riki Wilchins
Enlightened Sexism by Susan Douglas
The Great Starvation Experiment by Todd Tucker
Homophobia: A Weapon of Sexism by Suzanne Pharr
The History of Sexuality, Volume One by Michel Foucault
The Second Sex by Simone de Beauvoir